City of Joburg aware of possible prosecution

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pretoria - The City of Johannesburg is aware of an intention by certain parties to start prosecution action against it following a fire that gutted the Rissik Street Post Office building earlier this month.

"The city has not yet been officially notified of details of the charges. When notified, it will defend the charges," said the city's spokesperson Gabu Tugwana in a statement.

Certain media have reported that a group are planning to hold the city accountable for the fire.

The Rissik Street Post Office building, which was over 100 years old and had been in a state of disrepair for several years following incidents of vandalism, caught fire on 1 November. It took more than 30 fire fighters to extinguish the blaze.

The building was unfortunately badly damaged in the fire.

Tugwana said the city had since taken measures to ensure that the safety and security of the general public was not compromised. There is a strong security presence at the site and access to the building is restricted.

The municipality is in the process of appointing a Heritage Consultant to conduct an assessment on the status of the building; conduct an inventory of all fabric and materials that can be salvaged and re-used and conduct an assessment on the restoration and re-development
prospects for the building.

"The city has an obligation to preserve its buildings and to protect the interests of its community. In discharging its obligations the city is taking all reasonable steps to the best of its ability to ensure that this heritage building is restored and re-developed," said Tugwana.

An assessment on the cause of the fire was undertaken by Emergency Services (EMS) and the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) who are driving this project .

"We are still awaiting a report from the EMS and other engineering expects on this," he said.